by Sylvannia Garutch
Known for her Rock pedigree with The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde grew up in Akron, Ohio. Through various incarnations of bands and jobs ensued, including writing for music magazine, the NME. She has been noted as saying it was “half-baked philosophical drivel and nonsensical tirades.” Moving to London in 1973 opened up a world of creativity. Hynde then attempted to start a band in France before her return to Cleveland in 1975, but it was back to Europe for Hynde in 1976, and back to France. Several more attempts at bands, included collaborations with what would become her contemporaries in the late 70s early 80s punk serge. She returned to London in the midst of the early punk movement. In late 1976, Hynde responded to an advertisement in Melody Maker for band members and attended an audition for the band that would become 999. Jon Moss (who would later be in Culture Club) and Tony James of Generation X also auditioned. Later, Hynde tried to start a group with Mick Jones from The Clash.
In 1980 all would change for Hynde, with what would be her most successful group The Pretenders. With the release of their self-titled EP in 1980 and then Extended Play (1981), Pretenders II (1981) the band was everywhere. Subsequent albums only fanned the flames of success, with Hynes last release Alone (2016). So where does a Rock legend go from here. Hynde is tackling an album of songs by Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, Nick Drake, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Charlie Mingus and others in what she’s calling a “jazz/dub” album, it was recorded at London’s AIR studios and produced by Marius de Vries and Eldad Guetta. The album releases in September of 2019 and is titled Bone Valve Woe.
“Caroline, No” a well-known Beach Boys tune, has a slinky relaxed groove with the horn section providing a seductive intro. Hynde’s vocals are warm and blend into the feel with style. The bridge finds Hynde moving into her upper register. Her phrasing is unique, and her ornamentation of notes are interesting. A beautiful flute solo keeps the mood alive. The horns mixed with elements of electronics is a modern statement of jazz meets the sounds of today. The result is eclectic and intriguing.
“You Don’t Know What Love Is” lets us hear Hynde sing a melody that every jazz fan knows inside and out. It is surprising how much emotion and inventive phrasing she gets out of this well-known melody. Her vocal hue is smoky, sensual and conveys the pain of the lyrics. The string arrangement behind her is excellent. The ballad setting is the most telling for a vocalist to present, and Hynde does a fine job with this warm, stimulating and emotional rendition. With the orchestra playing the backgrounds, the piano solo is rich with the jazz tradition. The ending statement from Hynde has various effects on her voice, again, bringing her sound into today’s arena and showing her rock boots are still kicking.
Are you going to hear the most prolific be-bop singer since Ella on Bone Valve Woe. Well of course not, that has never been what Hynde is about. Her musical edict has always been to approach songs with an honesty that is uniquely her own. Its more in the delivery of the songs and the rhythm of how they are delivered that is intriguing. Hynde revealed “I’m not hugely interested in branching out into other musical genres, being a devout rock singer as such, but jazz is something I grew up around.” She further states, “Jazz got sidelined by rock & roll in the ‘60s, but now the demise of rock seems to be heralding in a newfound interest in it, the most creative and innovative musical forms of the 20th century. I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon.” We are happy too, its inspiring to hear Hynde at 67 still delivering songs with passion.